Find A Price
The optimistic boy sat in the car in silence. There was something on his mind. It was hot and stuffy in the car. You could see his parents were annoyed but they loved him too much to say anything.
He had his precious painting wrapped in tissue paper. He made sure it was stable and steady on the seat. He had to protect it on this journey. Could this be worth something?
Boy With A Good Eye
Young Mark was what you would call a little genius. He was able to read and write at a young age. His mother also noticed that he had a great hand at painting.
Whilst most boys would be playing sports outside, Mark would be inside, reading about history or Art. He was quite different from other children. His father was always most concerned about him.
His strange hobby of collecting antiques did not make him popular with his classmates. Many of the boys teased him. Some girls felt sorry for him and tried to befriend him because he was intelligent and got good grades.
This never bothered Mark at all. He was quite content with his books. His father would have liked him to be more like other boys but Mark wasn't interested in playing childish games. His father would soon realize that his son's talents were not wasted.
Know It All
Mark was extremely well-read on history. He knew facts about ancient art that nobody else knew. His knowledge was on a level of an adult man.
For Mark, it wasn't just history but a wealth of knowledge. He was a mini historian and the school librarian's best friend. But his parents were not too happy that he was always looking around for old things.
Little Mark was the baby of the family. He had two older brothers who took care of him and protected him. His brothers were the typical example of boys who loved to play outdoors, Mark was not like that. His parents could never understand why.
SIt took very little to make Mark happy. So, one day his father decided to take him to an auction. It was in this old New Jersey Junk House that Mark spotted an antique painting that he just had to have. It was priced at just $2 so Mark's father had no problem purchasing it for him.
Mark was so pleased with his gift. It was an unusual piece and he wanted to give it a closer inspection. As soon as they returned home, he took out his history book and started looking for the painter.
He found a lot of information in the piece. He was right. There was something special about it. He was soon going to find out just what made the painting so unique. Could it be worth more money?
Mark had to take this painting to a professional appraiser. There was no other way of knowing its true value. He had an idea in mind. There was a Roadshow airing soon nearby, he could attend. He just needed his parent's permission.
His parents were weary of the travel but eventually agreed. They prepared their car, buckled up, and set off on the road trip to discovery. Soon Mark would have a better understanding, or so he hoped.
Lights, Camera, Action
They arrived at the make-do set of the show. It was chaotic with cameramen, presenters, guests, and just all kinds of people. Mark loved the atmosphere.
It was an antique heaven, everywhere he looked there were old paintings and sculptures. Various boxes and display cabinets with treasures from far and wide. Suddenly a man appeared from behind a curtain. Mark recognized his face. He was someone important.
Mark walked closer. Could it be? Yes! It was Mr. David Weiss in the flesh. David Weiss was the senior vice president of the Freeman Auction House. He was the perfect person that Mark could speak to.
Mark approached David Weiss with a huge smile. He was holding his painting in his hands. David was quite shocked to see a teenager at the event and gave Mark a crooked smile.
The Future Me
Mark could not believe that he was seeing David Weiss in real life. He had only ever seen him n Television and he thought he was even better looking in person.
How lucky Mark felt t have met his hero today. Who knew? Maybe he would be the one to appraise Mark's Painting? Now wouldn't that be something? Mark thought and smiled.
Mark sat tall and confident as Weiss set him up at the table and explained about the cameras. Mark may have looked nervous, but inside he was jittering with excitement. It only got better when Weiss started asking questions – and Mark delivered totally unexpected answers that quickly changed the tone of the entire interview.
He asked what Mark liked to collect. He grinned and answered, “I like glass, sterling silver, and art.” He also tried to sell his finds online to make a little profit.
But he knew he had to wait until September to assess anything sterling silver because of market fluctuation. Weiss looked at Mark in amazement. But it was time to get to the main event.
Mark guessed it was a watercolor by someone named Albert, but he couldn’t find out anything else.
Weiss grinned and confirmed Mark was right. The artist was Albert Neuhuys. Albert Neuhuys was a well-known Dutch painter that liked to focus on rural family life in the 19th century. But was his work anything special?
Albert Neuhuys paintings were unique in how he specialized in the shine of satin clothes and his use of light. The watercolors he used became known for their sparkling transparency.
But the question remained. “How much do you think this is worth?” Weiss asked Mark.
“Hundred and fifty bucks,” Mark answered confidently. Making that much money off a 2-dollar investment would have been amazing.
The appraiser’s grin changed, and it made Mark’s excitement skyrocket. “It’s worth more than that,” Weiss said.
Anticipation Building 16
Mark sat up straight on the edge of his seat. His face was full of anticipation. His parents watched from the sidelines. Their hearts pounded for their little boy.
“How much do you think it’s worth?” Mark excitedly asked. He was barely able to stay seated. The crowd grew silent.
“I think your watercolor was probably done in the last quarter of the 19th century,” Weiss said.
“That means it’s already much more valuable than other modern paintings. And you see here?” he said as he pointed to an area on the painting. “We can tell this painting is original by these imperfections”. Mark's mind began to race.
“Are you ready to find out?” Weiss asked teasingly. “Yes!” Mark replied.
“Today, if your Albert Neuhuys watercolor came to an auction, it would probably sell for about $1000 to $1500.” It was Mark’s turn for his jaw to hit the floor. Out of the corner of his eye, he also saw his parents’ reaction.
Staring In Amazement
His parents stared at Mark in shock. Their jaws hanging open. Once the surprise passed, they looked at their son in complete amazement and admiration.
They didn’t teach him any of this. He learned how to spot a treasure all by himself. And not only that, but he also had to fight hard to persuade them to trust him.
Staring In Amazement
It was a mixture of shock and pride. It wasn’t the first time Mark’s persistence had turned a profit, and they were already so happy he had such a unique hobby, but this was the biggest dollar amount he had made so far.
It was the win Mark needed for them to really trust that he knew what he was doing.
All Grown Up
As with all investments, it can be a risky business, especially if that investor is not even a teenager yet. But Mark didn’t feel too young. He was smart and did a lot of research. This was all he needed to encourage his parents to take him more seriously.
And it wasn’t only his parents that had a change of heart.
Once Mark’s unique talent and success story hit the tv, he instantly became the coolest kid in town. Although Mark didn’t really care too much what other kids thought of him, it was nice to know that now, they understood him.
Suddenly, making money and being smart was cool. But Weiss also had a number of compliments for Mark that would turn his face red.
Weiss thought even though Mark still had lots to learn if he wanted to become a professional, he was already leaps and bounds ahead of any other dealer when they were that young.
He was also impressed that Mark had made such a wonderful find on instinct alone.
The muted image of a farmwife and her child took on an entirely different light. So did his parents’ attitude about the entire trip.
He felt a new, intense itch to get online and learn more so he could hone his skills and hopefully visit some auction houses soon.
The entire experience was amazing! Mark sat in the car with his original Neuhuys with a huge smile plastered across his face.
He loved his unusual hobby more than anything, but now he knew he could make a career of it. And, who knows, maybe be rich one day! Across the country, a woman named Helen was about to discover something equally as life-changing in a painting that sat in her house.
After 50 Years
Helen Davis had never expected anything like this. Her husband had given her a painting in the 70s that he made himself. It was a lovely piece.
But this turned out to be not just any old piece of art. When the old woman found out the secret her husband had hidden in the painting, she went from surprised to shocked.
High School Sweethearts
Helen and Paul Davis met in high school. They were each other's first loves and had never been in a relationship with anyone else. Because they met at a young age, they knew everything about each other.
At least, that's what Helen thought. It later turned out that Paul had kept a few private affairs from her. But it would be years before these secrets came to light.
Soon after they married, Paul worked as a businessman and often ate out all week. He would have lunch with business partners and clients, and Helen didn't have an issue with this. She was used to it.
What upset her was that Paul seemed to be going out to lunch with one person more and more. Her husband had often been going out to lunch with a beautiful blonde woman for the past few weeks and hadn't said anything to Hellen. How did she find out? One of her best friends worked in Paul's favorite restaurant, and nothing got past her.
Helen decided to confront him. One day when Paul got home from work, the woman was waiting for him. She got straight to the point and demanded that he tell her about this mysterious blonde woman.
Paul denied everything. He said the blonde woman was an important client at his company. The lunches were purely business related. Helen's friend also said there was nothing romantic about the meals the two shared together. In any case, they had kept their hands off each other whenever she was around. All Helen could do was believe what her husband said, but something was still bugging her.
Shortly after that came Valentine's Day. Neither Helen nor Paul had ever shown much interest in the holiday. It was more important to them to be loving to each other every day and not just once a year.
Helen had no idea that this Valentine's Day would be different than the rest. Paul prepared for her something unexpected.
When Paul came home that day, Helen was shocked. In his hands, he had five enormous balloons in the shape of a heart. He also had a huge bouquet of roses which he gave to his wife. Helen didn't know what to say. Why was he doing all this?
The man apologized for being so busy lately and not having enough time for his wife. Things had been going really well at work for the past few months. This was a good thing, but it also led to lots of stress and fatigue. Helen gave her husband a firm hug and a loving kiss. She understood it completely. And the bouquet and balloons weren't the only surprises.
Paul asked Helen to turn around while he went to get something out of the shed in the yard. He spent a lot of his free time there. It was his domain, so Helen hadn't been there for a long time. She was more than curious to find out what surprise awaited her.
When she was finally allowed to turn around, Paul stood in the living room with a beautiful painting - a self-painted masterpiece. On the canvas was a painted version of their most beautiful wedding photo. Helen knew that Paul was a good painter, but the fact that he had done this painting himself proved he had clearly put lots of work and love into it.
The years flew by. Paul and Helen were incredibly happy in their marriage. Their two sons grew up, moved out, and started their own families. Helen was more than content with her life, even though nothing exciting ever happened.
The painting paul had made for her hung on the living room wall all these years. For 50 years, the painting hung in their home. For all these years, Helen had no idea that there was a secret hidden in the painting. But after all this time, the painting's secret would be revealed and explained many things.
Paul fell ill, and things went downhill quickly. Before they knew it, Paul could no longer get out of bed. The doctor said that, unfortunately, there was nothing he could do for the now-senior citizen. Paul didn't have much time left. He ended up in the ICU. While doctors did their best to get the man feeling better, nothing worked. Helen's husband had no more than a few days to live.
Would the secret of the painting disappear with him? Helen contacted both her sons and gave them the sad news. It was a very emotional day for the family. Helen and her two sons loved Paul with all their hearts. None knew that Paul had been holding on to a secret all these years. And it had something to do with the painting he gave Helen five decades earlier.
Helen held her husband's hand until the very end. But before he could let go, Paul confessed that he had been holding on to a secret all these years. Helen was shocked.
After living with someone all this time and thinking you know them through and through, you discover that the person has been hiding something from you. The woman looked at her husband in shock. He told her that she needed to take a good look at the painting. Helen didn't get any further explanation. The man passed away soon after.
Checking The Painting
Once Helen got home with tears still in her eyes, she took the painting off the wall. She blew off the dust collected on the top of the frame and turned the painting around a few times. She didn't see anything odd.
But with his last breath, her husband had told her to take a good look at it. The old woman decided to call in the help of an art historian from the local museum. She told the woman her story, and the expert immediately came to pick up the painting for further research.
One day, the phone rang. The historian had finally uncovered the painting's secret. Helen rushed to her car and drove to the museum. Once she got there, she saw the painting was already set up. All around, there were numerous tools and products that were unknown to Helen. Then the historian revealed the secret behind the painting.
The art historian took Helen over to the painting and cleared her throat. Then she told her that she had found the secret. It was hidden under the layer of paint all this time. According to the expert, Paul hid something 50 years ago by painting over it. She said there was only one way to uncover the secret by taking the paint off. The expert scraped off the color, and Helen saw something unbelievable.
Underneath the paint on the canvas was something written in her beloved's handwriting. But it was not a love letter, confession, or other text. Numbers were scribbled onto the canvas.
Helen looked at the art historian, surprised. She was now also hunched over to see what was written there. "Are those coordinates?" The expert asked. Helen took another good look. Indeed they looked like coordinates, but why would her husband cover up the coordinates?
Helen took the painting home and decided to inspect this mystery from top to bottom. With the help of the internet, Helen discovered that the coordinates led to a spot in a park close to her house. The woman decided to go there and took a shovel with her just in case.
Helen's imagination ran wild. What was she going to find in the spot the coordinates hidden under the layer of paint led to? Why hadn't he said anything to her while he was still alive? Did he have a dark secret, or was it something to do with the blonde woman she was so jealous of all those years ago? She hadn't thought about the woman for years. Helen would soon find out what her husband had kept a secret all those years.
Underneath a large oak tree, Helen stuck the shovel into the ground. After digging for a while, at around half a meter down, the old woman ran into something hard. Helen slowly dug around the hard object. She could see the contours of a red metal chest. The woman tried to open the chest but to no avail. Eventually, she figured out that the combination to the padlock was the date of their anniversary.
Inside there was a letter. On the paper, it read in Paul's handwriting the following: "Dear Helen, if you're reading this, I'm already gone. While I always want to be with you, there will come a day when one of us has to leave the other. Maybe someday I'll be forced to dig up this chest, and you'll never read this letter. That blonde woman from the past was not an important client. She was a representative at our bank. My mother left me a large sum of money which I have put in a special safe. In this chest, you will find a key. Show this key to an employee at the bank, and he'll give you access to the safe. Love you, Paul."
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author's imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.